Attending THE book fair as a child for me was a special memory. Filling out the order for my newest Judy Blume. It came back to me in full force when I attended Book Expo America as an adult and a writer trying to gain traction. It brought me to tears as I walked into the building, up the stairs and into the ginormous hall that would be home for the next four days.
Sometimes it feels like a step forward is the most important step you can make and everything, I mean EVERYTHING rides on that event. It’s how I attended the Book Expo America Book Fair last week.
I had to do well and overcome my introversion, speak to everyone who passed within earshot of my booth and meet that one person. Only that would make this worthwhile, nothing short of meeting THAT person would do.
Sometimes we have predetermined expectations or hopes for an event. It doesn’t always work out as we plan. Though I met several small publishers, publicists and bloggers, it wasn’t what I hoped for. It was something worthwhile.
When you see inside the industry up close and personal, you can see your faults and stifle the tears, or you can see your strengths and walk with your head held high. It was an emotional whirlpool that made me want to keep pushing forward or quit all within a matter of minutes.
What I did instead of let the fear and loathing bring me down, I spoke with other writers, shared information and experiences, encouraged others and took A LOT of notes.
It wasn’t what I expected when I signed up, but the experience left me with a sense that the future is still within my reach, I just need to stretch a little longer.
I’ve never thought of myself as pretty. I just wasn’t one of THOSE girls when I was a kid.
Okay. It’s never really been an issue until after having kids. The body changes, the extra weight. And recently gained weight due to some heavy stress, I’ve feel very uncomfortable in my own skin.
I want more for myself and my children, than the constantly being down on myself because the days are long, the years are short and we should spend those short years with the people, things and events that make us happy. Whether that’s time with friends and family, sometimes, just taking are of yourself, reminding yourself that your more than a wife, mother, writer, friend is something you need to do. And taking yourself out of your comfort zone, finding new challenges, reinventing yourself, that might be just the thing you need.
Being part of a photo shoot might not be considered fun for people, or useful or have enough substance, but I like to dress up. I like shoes, purses, and makeup. I don’t apologize for being a girly girl. That’s who I am. So when this opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance to do something a little different. Honestly, I hate taking selfies and I don’t put myself in front of cameras often because I’m overly critical of how I look, but this intrigued me. This was different.
I found Bomber Betty Makeup, the way other people get recommendations. I asked my friends on Facebook for a recommendation for a makeup artist. I needed a headshot for the Wizard World Website and that’s when I met Jessica Sawicki.
After explaining my needs, we set an appointment time and she came to my house. I’ve never had my make up done, not like this. It was custom, all for me, and I looked great, if I do say so myself. I loved the make up so much, I’ve been buying it since 2o10.
One day I received an email about a vintage photo shoots. I was intrigued by the glamorous clothing, fun vignettes, and best of all, hair, make up and me time.
I borrowed a dress, circa 1960 and that led to the hairstyle and makeup looks.
I was hesitant when I first saw the hair. Without make up I felt a little school marmish and even considered taking it down. Rather than freaking out, I gave myself time in the make up chair and let Jessica fuss and dab and powder and perfect my face. As the look came together, I saw the vision and frankly, I couldn’t stop looking at myself. I’m not generally vain like that. But my skin was clear, the circles under my eyes gone. I no longer looked stressed or felt rushed and the colors were where colors should be. I smiled and felt good, I felt beautiful and even after the photo shoot, I couldn’t stop looking at myself. It was weird, it was a strange feeling to look in the mirror and see such a different me. Shall I say confident?
A do realize we shouldn’t need a full face of make up and fancy clothes to feel pretty. But what that day did for me was remind me that I’m kinda special and I deserve some quality time alone with me. I’m good, I’m smart and I’m capable. Sometimes we just need to be reminded.
I will say, the below picture. The toughest, most uncomfortable shot for me. Either I never knew how to flirt, or I simply forgot how.
Below photos with vintage beauty products. I’m actually sitting on a old hair dryer chair.
Monsters keep us awake at night, they haunt our dreams. That could be said of agents, those people who make or break the writer based on their judgement of not so much our work but our presentation of our work in three short paragraphs. To be fair to the agents, they receive thousands of queries a week, an insurmountable number to weed through and for us as writers, if we don’t have an engaging, insightful, thrilling query letter, that agent won’t see more of us than that.
It’s not the part of the process that infuriates me the most, it’s the after they read our work and the notes they make and give to us. I have a friend who’s trying desperately to find an agent. She’s had several read her work and each of them has given her various story changes that they feel she needs to make and maybe they might be interested. She’s made updates and restructured the book and is less comfortable with the story than she was when she first began the process. I’ve suggested she stick with her original vision, because unless the agent picks her up as a client, she’ll be working to please everyone and you simply can’t do that.
My experience is different. I’ve had one agent and apparently her assistant read my book She Wulf. It’s similar in that you can’t please everyone so what is a writer to do? I attended a self publishing event several years ago and had an agent and an editor review my book. Needless to say my experience with the agent didn’t work as I had hoped. First I was assigned to an agent who had no interest in Science Fiction or Fantasy. So after pitching my book idea, she basically told me that you can’t do that. Time travel is science fiction, magic is fantasy and the two can’t co-exist in the same book. I nearly cried as she told me my work was wrong. In the end she asked me to forward the manuscript to her, which I hesitantly did, and in the end, nothing came of it. If you know anything about the process of finding agents, you always send manuscripts to agents requesting your specific genre.
I must admit, I nearly walked out of the event, no longer interested, wishing the earth would open up and swallow me whole. But I stayed anyway and listened to the editor, an editor of science fiction and fantasy. She liked the few pages that I had sent to the event organizers and felt I had something there, giving me hope that maybe I do.
So agents are my Monday Monsters because they can make us feel inches tall, can twist us in knots and make the experience that much more unpleasant. But what I came away with is that for those agents resistant change, we might get a skewed view of our work. Publishing is changing. Books no longer need to be shelved and labeled in one category. Writers can bring their wildly brilliant stories to life on the pages in any manner they choose. As writers we need to trust our visions and stand up for them. Yes, agents know what sells, but we also know what we like to read, and only our persistence and strong belief in ourselves and our work can take us as far as our imagination.
I hope I remember that as I enter another year of scratching toward that goal.
I’m either the best mom ever or I’m spoiling my kids and will live with the consequences forever. Or maybe I’m really just a big old geek and like to drag my kids along to things like Wizard World Chicago.
And to think, there are Comic Cons all over the world, big, crowded and entertaining, all about celebrating love of the genre. It all started with a man named Shel Dorf a comic book enthusiast who in the sixties, envisioned a one day convention celebrating that love. He held his convention in 1970 and called it “Triple Fan Fairs,” in Detroit. It was that convention that later moved to San Diego, becoming the juggernaut that it is today.
What once celebrated super heroes inside the pages of comic books has since grown into this all-encompassing entertainment fest. Not just for the geeks anymore, even people like me who once sat on the outside looking in, who enjoyed yet not fully embraced all that the genre involved, can now become excited to the point of nausea if the right item, actor or character crosses my path. Who knew seeing Jayne’s ugly knitted cap would make me laugh to the point I nearly bought one for myself and now I simply regret not coming home with one. Seriously they were all over the hall. Still scratching your head, think Firefly. Still don’t know it, you need to watch one of the best cancelled shows ever.
It’s about enjoying and taking it all in. Getting your picture taken with the actor who plays Daryl Dixon on The Walking Dead. Yes we stood in line for an hour to get our picture taken, or seeing John Barrowman, the Captain Jack signing autographs and jumping in line, because really who doesn’t want to meet him. And of course I told him I was a HUGE fan. That’s what I said? Well duh. Why else would I be there. I’m such a dork… It’s seeing the costumes of the characters that you enjoy so much and chasing them around the hall just to snap a picture. Well my daughter did, but I kinda made her do it. Yeah. That’s Wizard World. And it’s the regret of not having met a favorite character or buying that soft kitty plush toy, you know the one that sings that song…
But if you stop and examine it the phenomenon, really think of them, the artists, the writers, the creators, as visionaries, their ability to imagine the world as a different place,. A world that inspires others to create what they’ve dreamt up. And we love them. It’s a chance to play, to imagine and celebrate behind the doors of comic con. Embrace your inner geek.